History Book

NICK EICHER, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It:  the WORLD Radio History Book. Today, a famous animated rodent turns 90 years old, plus the founding of Israel 70 years ago.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: But first, the U.S. government censors certain speech during wartime. Here’s Paul Butler.  

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: We begin 100 years ago this week. Congress passes the Sedition Act of 1918. The legislation amends a year-old law known as the Espionage Act (of 1917). Under that bill, any attempt to aid the enemy, interfere with the war effort or prevent military recruitment could be punished with imprisonment up to 20 years.

The Sedition Act of 1918 broadens those powers to include any speech or other expressions of opinion that cast the war effort, the military, or the government, in a negative light.

Over the next 6 months, the federal government prosecutes a handful of well-known pro-German and socialist leaders. But at the conclusion of the war, the Sedition Act is no longer applicable. Lawmakers put forward several peacetime versions of the bill, but none achieve consensus. The Sedition Act is repealed in 1920. However, elements of the older Espionage Act continue, and are frequently employed in spy cases even today.

Next, May 15th, 1928 – Walt Disney releases his first cartoon featuring a mischievous mouse named “Mickey.” The 6-minute silent film is released just one year after Charles Lindbergh’s famous flight across the Atlantic ocean.

In “Plane Crazy” Mickey Mouse, inspired by Lindbergh, offers to take Minnie for a ride in his new airplane. When Mickey falls out on take-off, he must rescue Minnie before she crashes the plane.

AUDIO: Sound of cartoon

Disney re-releases the cartoon in 1929, this time with sound. It features the music of Carl Stalling, who goes on to compose music for hundreds of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies productions.

AUDIO: M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E song

Mickey Mouse soon grows into Disney’s most iconographic character, and becomes the face of Disney merchandising.

And finally, May 14th, 1948, 70 years ago today.

NEWSREEL: A new nation is being born. Israel they have named their state. And the new citizens of Israel cheer the men who have signed the Jewish declaration of Independence.

AUDIO: Founding of Israel announcement [in Hebrew]

NEWSREEL: In the first Jewish city, Tel Aviv, their first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion declared the independent Jewish State.

AUDIO: Founding of Israel announcement [in Hebrew]

Prime Minister Ben Gurion says: “The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped…and on the basis of the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state … to be known as the state of Israel.” The speech lasts about 16 minutes.

Soon after, the U.S. delegation the to UN announces American support for the new nation…

AUDIO: The United States recognizes Israel’s provisional government as the de facto authority of the new state of Israel…

But not everyone accepts the declaration.

NEWSREEL: Israel is under attack from all fronts. The five nations of the Arab league, in defiance of the United Nations decision have declared on the little republic. Jerusalem is besieged. Supplies of food and water cut off by trans-Jordan’s Arab legion.

Fighting continues for 10 months before each of the Arab states resign the conflict. Each of them enter into armistice agreements and acknowledge Israel’s national boundaries.

NEWSREEL: It is here in Israel today, that the men and women of this new state are writing with their very lives the most glorious page in their long and gallant history…

That’s this week’s WORLD Radio History Book, I’m Paul Butler.

(Photo/Walt Disney)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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